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September is a monster month for books. There’s something like 90 YA novels coming out. I know, as an author and reader, that is an overwhelming number at first. But this just means that there is something for everyone, and I’ve got a few gems waiting to be discovered.
The one thing that has always drawn me into speculative fiction is seeing the world through a new lens. Whether we’re traversing demon-filled forests or remixing Greek myth through a Puerto Rican perspective or we’re forming friendships in a chaos coven or meeting a soulmate in the desert. Magic, galaxies, resurrections — there’s an impossibility to SFF that makes me excited just to be in this world.
These books, in particular, bring something new to the table. Don’t miss them.
Night Shine - Tessa Gratton [September 8]
Tessa Gratton’s latest YA novel is the queer Howl’s Moving Castle you’ve been waiting for. I am a biased party here, but I can’t go without shouting about this book to the world. Everything from Gratton’s evocative prose to the way she interrogates gender and identity makes this fairy-tale fantasy a thing of beauty.
Night Shine follows an orphan girl named Nothing who risks it all to rescue her best friend, Prince Kirin. The army has searched far and wide, but can’t find the kidnapped prince. Nothing and the prince’s bodyguard suspect the Sorceress Who Eats Girls is involved, and journey across demon-filled forests and crossroads guarded by spirits. Whatever it takes to reach the Sorceress' lair — even if it costs Nothing her heart.
Never Look Back - Lilliam Rivera [September 15]
Lilliam River’s latest novel, Never Look Back, takes the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and remixes it featuring two Afro-Puerto Rican kids post-Hurricane Maria. Eury is a girl haunted by the aftermath of the storm and an evil spirit trying to drag her back to El Inframundo, the Underworld. Pheus is a charming Bachata singer whose world changes when he meets Eury and wants to help her fight her demons.
This is an homage to culture, a love song to the magical, and unapologetically unique. Rivera combines speculative fiction with contemporary issues affecting the Puerto Rican diaspora but maintains a thread of hope and healing. Can Pheus and Eury's love survive?
The Scapegracers - Hannah Abigail Clarke [September 15]
This coven is now in session. Debut author Hannah Abigail Clarke kicks off their witchy trilogy with The Scapegracers.
Sideways Pike is West High’s outcast lesbian witch who accepts $40 from the resident popular girls to cast a spell at their Halloween party. Soon, the unholy trinity becomes an unholy quartet when Sideways joins the crew. Together, they are a powerful coven. Basically four Fairuza Balks from The Craft. They throw parties, curse dudebros, and elude a fundamentalist witch hunter out for blood and magic. These girls are angry and rife with possibility, but they’re ride-or-die witches. Even though Sideways’ biggest crux is the idea of having such good friends. When you’ve been on the fringe for so long, how do you balance friendships and supernatural threats?
I’m so excited about the occult hijinks.
Each of Us a Desert - Mark Oshiro [September 15]
Xochital is a wanderer. She treks the desert alone telling her village’s history to the wind. Even though this is her destiny and she’s gladly accepted it, she still longs for more than the stars and the poetry magically strewn across the desert dunes. Xo wants true companionship, a kindred spirit.
Instead she gets Emilia, the cold daughter of the town's conqueror. As their paths cross, and they travel across the desert together, they discover that they could be the missing pieces they were looking for all along. Now Xochital and Emilia must survive the monsters that come out after sunset.
Award-winning author Mark Oshiro's highly anticipated sophomore novel creates an original folktale about soulmates in a world filled with darkness.
Legendborn - Tracy Deonn [September 15]
Southern. Black. Girl. Magic. Meets. King. Arthur! If you’re a fan of contemporary fantasy like City of Bones or A Blade So Black, then this is perfect for you.
Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn follows Bree Matthews, a 16-year-old attending a program at UNC Chapel Hill. It’s almost the perfect thing to help her begin to put memories of her mother’s death behind her. However, on the first night, Bree witnesses a magical attack: a flying demon feeding on human energies and the Legendborn who hunt the creatures.
When a mage calling himself “Merlin” tries to scrub Bree’s memory of the events, he unlocks a disturbing fact: the Legendborn were there when her mother died. To get to the truth, Bree infiltrates the secret society descendants of King Arthur’s knights with the intent to take them down. There’s a war coming and Bree has to decide on which side she’s going to fight.
Early Departures - Justin A. Reynolds [September 22]
Justin A. Reynolds, author of Opposite of Always, puts a speculative touch to a contemporary story with heart by asking the question: What if you could bring your best friend back to life — but only for a short time?
In Early Departures, new technology allows Q to be reanimated for a few weeks before he dies permanently. It’s a way to tie up loose ends. It’s the ultimate second chance. For Jamal, things are more complicated. His best friend Q doesn’t know that he died. Q doesn’t know that he’s about to die... for real this time. Jamal hasn’t been Q’s friend for two years because he blames Q for the accident that killed his parents. With the clock running out, Jamal has a second chance to fix everything that went wrong. But how can he do it if he can’t tell Q the truth?
Crownchasers - Rebecca Coffindaffer [September 29]
Rebecca Coffindaffer’s debut novel takes us to a galactic competition to determine the fate of an empire. Crownchasers follows free-spirit Alyssa Farshot, who's spent her entire life trying to be free from her family’s legacy. Her mother’s sacrifice brought peace to the quadrant and her uncle has been emperor for decades.
When her uncle becomes ill, instead of naming a successor, he calls for a crownchase. It’s the first time in seven centuries this has occurred. Representatives from the prime families put forth a candidate, and Alyssa must represent hers. She wanted wild adventures, not to be empress. But her family duty compels her to go all-in on this final adventure, even when the competition turns deadly.